Trump Administration pushes back against reproductive rights as human rights

By Michael Cook

Ambassador Michael Kozak at release of US government’s human rights report

More pushback from the Trump Administration against “reproductive rights” can be seen in the latest Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The 2017 edition omits a section called “reproductive rights” in which access to contraception and abortion, as well as maternal mortality rates, was sketched out for every country. In its place is a section called coercion in population control which discusses instances of “coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods.” This is not what supporters of abortion rights mean by “reproductive rights,” which ought to include access to abortion.

It was the Trump Administration’s first chance to alter the Obama’s Administration’s focus on reproductive rights as a fundamental human right. “Reproductive rights are human rights, and omitting the issue signals the Trump administration’s latest retreat from global leadership on human rights,” said a spokeswoman for Amnesty International USA.

The State Department had a different story. A senior official with the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Michael Kozak, said a discussion of abortion was omitted because there was no international consensus on whether women must have access to the procedure, although there is a consensus on the wrong of forced abortions.

“Reproductive rights,” said Mr. Kozak, is “one of the few terms that are used in the report that isn’t derived from an international treaty that has a definition or derived from U.S. law, where there’s a clear definition to the term.

We don’t report on it because it’s not a human right,” he said. “It’s an issue of great policy debate.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at Bioedge and is reposted with permission.